DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings and coach Scotty Bowman won the Stanley Cup they were supposed to win, then came the surprise -- Bowman upstaged his players by skating off into retirement.
Bowman, who always had the last word in an unparalleled coaching career, carried the trophy as he glided around the ice in a victory lap after the Red Wings beat Carolina 3-1 Thursday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals.
It was a night for firsts -- and lasts. The Red Wings won their 10th Stanley Cup in a season they dominated from start to finish, Bowman won his record ninth title, and future Hall of Famers Dominik Hasek and Luc Robitaille each won their first championship.
On the night of his ninth title, he acted like the No. 1 star, accepting the Cup from captain Steve Yzerman, a role usually reserved for the star of stars. It was the same role Ray Bourque filled last year when, capping a 22-year career with his first Stanley Cup, he accepted it from Colorado captain Joe Sakic and hoisted it high in the air.
''It's my last game as a coach. I've been thinking about it,'' he said, making the announcement even before NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presented the Red Wings with the Cup. ''I made up my mind at the Olympic break.''
Bowman took off his blue sport coat before accepting the Cup from Yzerman, then -- wearing a gray sweater and a huge smile -- took his turn before handing it off to a just-as-happy Hasek.
It was uncertain which surprised the Red Wings more: to see the 68-year-old Bowman skating with them as red and white confetti fell from above, or to see the no-nonsense, jut-jawed coach smiling.
''It's time to go,'' said Bowman, who will stay with the team as a consultant. ''I just told my wife 10 minutes ago. I'm not an old man, but it's time to go. I never knew before, but I felt this year that this was it. I'm so happy that I was able to go out with a winning team.''
Bowman also skated with the Cup after winning the first of his three titles with Detroit in 1997. He also won five with Montreal and one with Pittsburgh.
''I wanted to do it again,'' Bowman said. ''I enjoy being with the guys. ... That's what I'm thinking about. The guys who hadn't won.''
Igor Larionov, at 41 one of the surprise stars of the series, said, ''It's sad, it's truly sad. He's one of the greatest coaches ever.''
Hasek, one of the game's best goalies ever but never a Cup winner before, was traded from Buffalo to Detroit before this season because he wanted a chance to win.
Now, he could join Bowman in retirement too, though he will wait a few days to decide. If he quits, he'll have a nice retirement present, a $1 million bonus for winning the Cup.
Hasek, who jumped nearly a foot off the ice when Brendan Shanahan scored the first of his two goals, also couldn't stop smiling after he finally got a Cup to go with his six Vezina Trophies, two MVP awards and Olympic gold medal.
''The biggest thing for me was to win the Cup, and I've done it. I've got other trophies, but there is no better feeling than to win the Stanley Cup,'' Hasek said. ''But I want to go back to the Czech Republic and decide. Give me three or four days, and then I will make the announcement.
''This is a special moment, and I just want to enjoy it, to be with the Cup and my teammates. It was my dream, and now my dream has come through, so let me enjoy it for a few minutes.''
Tomas Holmstrom, a surprising scorer for much of the playoffs, and Shanahan, a surprising non-scorer for most of the last two rounds, got Detroit's goals in tightly played game that mirrored one of the most defense-dominated finals ever, with only 21 goals scored.
The Red Wings sealed it with Shanahan's empty-net goal with 45 seconds left, his second of the game and third in two games after he went 10 games with only one goal.
Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs -- the first European to win it, just as Hasek is the first European goalie to lead his team to the Cup.
Bowman, who first coached in the finals during the 1960s, became the second major pro sports coach in two nights to win a ninth title, joining Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Former Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach is the only other coach with nine titles in any of the four major sports.
Hasek finally gave up a goal -- Jeff O'Neill's line drive that he had no chance to play late in the second period -- after shutting out Carolina for more than 166 minutes.
But it was Hasek's almost perfect play in the final three games and the timely scoring of Brett Hull and Larionov that turned around the series and finished a season dominated by Red Wings from start to finish. Their Presidents' Trophy for winning the regular season was all but assured by a 22-3-1 start.
From the time Hull scored with just over a minute left in Game 3 to prevent Detroit from going down 2-1 in the series, allowing Larionov to win it late in the third overtime, Detroit outscored Carolina 8-1.
After a scoreless first period, Holmstrom stuck out his stick with his right hand to deflect Larionov's pass from the right circle through Arturs Irbe's pads.
His eighth goal of the playoffs, at 4:07 of the second, was all a jammed Joe Louis Arena needed to erupt into a wave of red and white -- many in replica Red Wings jerseys.
Later, in a series in which nearly every key goal was scored at even strength, Shanahan powered in a shot from the right circle at 14:04 -- only the third Detroit goal in 22 power-play chances.
Carolina, turned aside repeatedly for the equivalent of 2 1/2 games by Hasek, finally scored on O'Neill's power play goal at 18:50, only the second in 23 chances for the Hurricanes.
The goal ended Hasek's scoreless streak at 166 minutes, 3 seconds dating to O'Neill's third-period goal in Detroit's three-overtime victory in Game 3. Hasek shut out the Hurricanes 3-0 in Game 4 on Monday night.
O'Neill's slap shot from the edge of the right circle slammed off the rear of the net and came out so quickly it took a lengthy video review to uphold the goal.
Hasek's best save came late in the first when, after a Detroit giveaway in its own end, he just got his left skate out to turn aside a Sami Kapanen shot from five feet. Kapanen, Carolina's second-leading goal scorer during the season, scored only one goal in the playoffs.
Carolina won Game 1 in Detroit, then was swept in four consecutive closely played games.
''You don't get here unless you think you can win,'' said coach Paul Maurice, who was born about the time Bowman was coaching in his first finals. ''That's what makes it tough.''
© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us